Publication Details

Allison, R. S., Gillam, B. J. & Palmisano, S. A. (2009). Stereoscopic discrimination of the layout of ground surfaces. Journal of Vision, 9 (12), 1-11.


Safe and effective locomotion depends critically on judgements of the surface properties of the ground to be traversed. Little is known about the role of binocular vision in surface perception at distances relevant to visually guided locomotion in humans. Programmable arrays of illuminated targets were used to present sparsely textured surfaces with real depth at distances of 4.5 and 9.0 m. Psychophysical measurements of discrimination thresholds demonstrated a clear superiority for stereoscopic over monocular judgments of relative and absolute surface slant. Judgements of surface roughness in particular demonstrated a substantial binocular advantage. Binocular vision is thus shown to directly contribute to judgements of the layout of terrain up to at least 4.5 m, and its smoothness to at least 9.0 m. Hence binocular vision could support moment-to-moment wayfinding and path planning, especially when monocular cues are weak.



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